SCOTLAND’S battered tourism industry has signalled its “bitter” disappointment that hotels, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions are still being denied lifeline grants to support them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) has been campaigning alongside groups such as the Scottish Licensed Trade Association for greater financial assistance for the hospitality industry, arguing that the methodology used to determine grants has ruled thousands of outlets out of receiving support.

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Businesses have been able to qualify for grants of £25,000 if the rateable value of their premises falls between £18,001 and £51,000. But this has frozen out thousands of pubs, hotels, and restaurants, which trade from properties with a rateable value higher than £51,000. The methodology used by ratings assessors to calculate the property values of hospitality outlets means they are traditionally rated higher than properties used by businesses in other sectors.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, announced in the Scottish Parliament this week that the coronavirus grant scheme for small businesses and the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors would be extended to “businesses that occupy multiple premises with a cumulative value of more than £51,000”.

Trade groups the STA and UKHospitality say businesses which occupy single properties with rateable values of more than £51,000 will continue to miss out.

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the STA, said: “While the support given so far by both the Scottish and UK governments is very welcome, it is not enough. Despite the recent increases to the Hardship and Pivotal funds announced by Scottish Government the total sum of support available still falls well short of what is needed to protect business from collapse.

“We are hearing of many tourism business above the RV51 (£51,000 rateable value) threshold who have had their applications to these funds declined.

“As such it remains the case that at this juncture there are hundreds of tourism businesses, pubs, hotels, visitor attractions, and event venues who are all incurring significant monthly costs with no income coming in still not having received and grant support and many about to go the wall.”

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Mr Crothall, who warned last week that the tourism industry in Scotland was “at risk of total collapse”, added: “These medium to large businesses are the lifeblood of Scotland’s tourism industry, major employers and the recovery of our industry and wider economy is dependent on them.  Their monthly hibernation costs range from £10,000 per month to £350,000-plus and with no income or support, they are now collapsing.  The loss of thousands of jobs is imminent as these businesses simply have no revenue; we are now days away from this.

“If as we are being told by Scottish Government ministers, there is no more money to support these business then we urge them, as the industry are doing to press their UK counterparts in the Treasury harder still.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Our total package for businesses during this unprecedented economic crisis now totals £2.3 billion and ministers are listening to concerns from businesses as we continue to explore how best to help.

"Our support, which is under constant review, includes almost £900 million of non-domestic rates relief, a £1.3bn business grants scheme and a £185 million package of targeted support for SMEs and the self-employed, as we aim to plug the gaps in existing UK-wide schemes."